Is SEO a Safe Investment to Market Your Franchise Business Online?
A franchised business grants a business owner the right to use a license to market products or services in a certain area. The franchise license typically governs marketing, including: the offers and promotions, web design, graphics, and other things associated with the business. However, most franchising agreements allow for customization of certain aspects, such as pricing, specific to the local area. Some franchise licensing agreements may require the franchisee to contribute up to 3% of sales into a national marketing fund to help cover the cost of an online presence. While this approach helps keep the marketing funds flowing for the entire brand, it doesn’t really do much for the local owners who need customers coming in the door.
In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), franchisees are competing for the same terms, except for on the local level. SEO can still be a safe investment to market your franchise business online, however the strategy you use makes all of the difference. Using information from Google® employee Matt Cutts, and the frozen yogurt franchise business Pinkberry® as a guide, we know the best way to handle franchise search engine optimization is to treat each location as a micro website rather than a landing page. Why?
Each Franchise Location Has Unique Content
There is a very real duplicate content issue across all microsites that are controlled by a franchisor. Therefore, in order to not appear spammy in the search engines, correct canonical urls need to be set up to tell Google which content to index. When each store is allowed to have its own unique content, it definitely avoids the duplicate content issue, and keeps the content fresh for customers. This is particularly helpful in the case of several franchise locations in a single geographic area.
Each Franchise Location Gets a Unique Social Media Identity
Every store should have its own social identity, especially in markets where there are multiple locations. This helps the franchisee create an identity, and will also help the franchisor create multiple listings on a search engine results page. This approach is definitely a great way for franchisors to get an edge on the competition.
Location specific URLs in your social media profiles can help customers in terms of usability. Customers do not like to spend more time than necessary locating specific information, so sending them to the main page and forcing them to find information specific to a franchise location can be frustrating. In fact, according to Nielsen Norman Group, users typically leave a webpage within 10 to 20 seconds, unless there is a clear value proposition to hold them there longer.
Each Franchise Location Needs Locally Targeted Marketing
The franchisors are typically more interested in brand marketing. They want to grow brand recognition to sell more locations. The franchisees, however, need locally relevant and targeted content. As such, main keyword phrases for the brand itself do not do much, if anything at all, to help grow the local retail store. Using a locally targeted marketing approach with the help of things like Google Places™, gives specific locations a boost in the search engine results pages. Other search engines, such as Bing® and Yahoo® have similar products to help business owners with local search engine optimization and marketing strategies, as well.
As a franchise owner, it is important to remember that your SEO strategy will still require the basics of link building, social media promotion, and landing page optimization. Though they are no different than any other SEO strategy requirement, the way you implement them will obviously be different than a non-franchised business.
No matter what SEO strategies you use to market your business online, always make sure they are in line with what is allowed by the terms of your franchise agreement and in line with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you are unsure, always consult with the franchisor. To improve your search engine ranking, consider investing in a technical SEO audit to find any concerns with your franchise website. The audit will help you determine a plan of action to fix any errors. From there, you can develop a new strategy based on what the audit and your market reveals.
About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi
A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.BACK